If there’s one phrase I’ve become tired of hearing over the last 20+ years of watching wrestling it’s the one I’m sure we have all heard enough times to make us want to slap someone in the Yes! Lock. That phrase is of course “You know wrestling isn’t real right?”. This is also usually followed by “It’s all predetermined so how can you like it?”. Whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion I find it pretty patronising that people assume I don’t already know this. I’ve known it’s not real since I was around 9 or 10 years old. But just because it is all predetermined does it really mean that there are not real elements that go into the product? I take a look at some examples I have given in the past, or would point to in the future.
For anyone who saw what Cameron’s boyfriend Vinny on Total Divas went through last week at the WWE Performance Centre with Bill DeMott, it shows that there is a huge physical demand on the body and your fitness need to be top level constantly. DeMott worked Vinny hard, and I can only imagine what he had him doing was just a small portion of what the superstars have to go through on a weekly basis. I can whole heartedly say that hands down I could not do what these guys and girls go through for the majority of their lives in that ring, taking the punishment they do. When people say to me it’s not a sport then why do the superstars need to be at the peak of physical fitness? WWE superstars are probably some of the fittest athletes on the planet and could easily put many other sports stars to shame.
It should also be noted that being a WWE superstar means that you dedicate most of their lives to the sport for little or no gain at the end of your career. Think of the emotional toll it must take on the wrestlers and their families when they don’t see their kids for Christmas or on their birthdays. If you want to look at the long term physical effects then look no further than hardcore legend Terry Funk. In the 1999 documentary Beyond The Mat Funk was shown as a man in need to hip and knee replacement surgery, who could barely get himself out of bed in the morning. He was contemplating retirement at this time, which he eventually did but the retirement only lasted 3 months before he was back in the ring. Funk would go on to have several more retirement matches since and announced his most recent retirement on January 12 2013 at age 68. A lot of wrestlers carry on purely because wrestling is like an addiction, but the price they pay at the end is also unlike that of any other professional athletes.
The most common argument I hear this that the outcome of each match is pre-determined and that takes away from the realism, but predetermined outcomes affect all of your favourite television shows, and they are not real so what makes that more acceptable than wrestling? Take for example CSI. You know before you even watch it that in the end they solve the crime and catch the bad guy so why bother watching if that’s the case? Simple, you watch it for the entertainment and you watch it because you enjoy it. WWE is no different to this but people still seem to frown upon it as if it is different to any other form of television program. WWE has all the same excitement and drama as any other show on television, if not more. It’s story lines are unique and intricate and it is a difficult job for the creative team to come up with new and exciting story lines consistently each week. So while the match outcomes are predetermined, just ask the person speaking to you to think the same about their favourite show before they sit down and watch it and get them to tell you how that is any different.
Finally, given that people think that wrestling is just fake in general I come on to the subject of spots that have left wrestlers injured or worse. Take for example the Joey Mercury Ladder spot at Armageddon in 2006 when Mercury was blasted in the face by a double team move by Matt & Jeff Hardy. If wrestling is fake then did Joey Mercury fake all that blood from his face and the facial features from the photo below? Wrestling is very real and serious injuries happen. One of the more serious injuries suffered, aside fro the untimely death of Owen Hart, was when Darren ‘Droz’ Drozdov suffered a serious neck injury in October 1999 when a D’Lo Brown power bomb went wrong and caused his to severely fracture discs in his neck. Although he has gained movement in his upper body, Droz will likely spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair. For a sport that is supposedly fake that is a pretty horrific way to spend the rest of your life.
Most people who criticize wrestling for being fake and criticize people for watching the product usually do not understand the most basic fundamentals about wrestling. To some it will never be real no matter how much of an argument you put up. However, there are plenty of people out there who I am sure can be persuaded that wrestling is more than just some pre-determined sport. It is a product full of extremely fit athlete’s who make huge sacrifices for a sport they love. Sure, you could easily go on Youtube and just show people wrestling injuries and ask them if they think that it’s fake, but there are plenty of other arguments you can give to people who sit and question wrestling. It takes someone special to be a professional wrestler and they go through a lot of things in life that a lot of us will never have to experience. They can get injured and live a difficult life without anyone stopping and thinking about the sacrifices the superstars actually make. Wrestling may be predetermined, but it certainly isn’t fake. In the word’s of Kurt Angle, “It’s real…It’s damn real.”